Yakasah Wehyee sworn in as Falcon Heights first Liberian-American on City Council

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Yakasah Wehyee
Yakasah Wehyee takes the oath of office on Wednesday, January 8, 2020 to become the first Liberian-American to serve on the Falcon Heights City Council. Photo: Tom Gitaa/Mshale

About 50 people including the Minnesota Democratic Party’s Civic Engagement Director and the Liberian Consul General in Minnesota, crowded the City of Falcon Heights Council Chambers on Wednesday for the swearing-in ceremony of Yakasah Wehyee, the city’s first Liberian born Council member. The University of Minnesota’s St. Paul Campus and the sprawling Minnesota State Fair are located inside Falcon Heights.

Falcon Heights City Council
The Falcon Heights City Council holds its first meeting immediately after swearing in its first Liberian-American member Yakasah Wehyee on Wednesday, January 8, 2020. Photo: Tom Gitaa/Mshale

Yakasah Wehyee was the top vote getter in a race to fill two open seats in the council last November that attracted three candidates. He garnered 44.4% of the vote to win one of the two seats. Voters also chose Kay Thomas who is legally blind to take the other seat. She was sworn in alongside Wehyee on Wednesday but the small crowd that was present was there for Wehyee who got the most applause and the customary African ululation to signal a joyous occasion.

Crowd at Falcon Heights City Council
A section of those who came to witness the swearing-in of Yakasah Wehyee as a member of the Falcon Heights City Council on Wednesday, January 8, 2020. He became the first Liberian-American to serve on that council. Photo: Tom Gitaa/Mshale

In Falcon Heights’ nearly 71-year history, Yakasah Wehyee is the first African immigrant to be elected to its Council. The 28-year-old is a PhD student at the University of Minnesota.

Falcon Heights Mayor Randy Gustafson swore in Yakasah Wehyee in front of about 50 people that packed the small Council chambers, including the DFL Civic Engagement Director Ian Oundo and Jackson K. George, Jr., the Honorary Consul General for Liberia in Minnesota. Wehyee’s wife, Esha, and mother Vicky were also present.

Yakasah Wehyee and Ian Oundo
Yakasah Wehyee (left) speaks with Ian Oundo, the Minnesota Democratic Party’s Civic Engagement Director after Wehyee was sworn in as the first Liberian-American Falcon Heights City Council member on Wednesday, January 8, 2020. Tom Gitaa/Mshale

“I am so proud of all my children,” said Vicky Wehyee, mother to the new councilman. She added that she was not surprised when he said he will run for City Council as he was “always acting mature for his age.” His wife Esha said he had contemplated waiting to run after he completes his PhD “but I told him to just do it now.”

Jackson George and Vicky Wehyee
Jackson George, Jr., the Honorary Consul for Liberia in Minnesota speaks to Vicky Wehyee, the mother to Yakasah Wehyee after the latter was sworn in as the first Liberian-American to serve on the Falcon Heights City Council. Photo: Tom Gitaa/Mshale

The DFL’s Oundo told Mshale after Wehyee’s swearing in that the diversity the African immigrants are bringing to the elective posts they have recently assumed is a good thing for Minnesota.

“We continue to work hard at the DFL to ensure that all communities have elected officials that are representative of those who live there,” said Oundo.

Yakasah Wehyee in Chamber
Yakasah Wehyee at his seat at the Falcon Heights City Council chambers after being sworn in on Wednesday, January 8, 2020 to become that city’s first Liberian-American council member. Photo: Tom Gitaa/Mshale

About Tom Gitaa

Tom is the President and Publisher of Mshale and chair of the Minnesota Multicultural Media Consortium (MMMC). As Mshale founder, he did a lot of the reporting during the humble beginnings of the newspaper. While he still does the occasional reporting, he now concentrates on the publishing side of the news operation.Tom was also the original host of Talking Drum, the signature current affairs show on the African Broadcasting Network (ABN-America), which was available nationwide in the United States via the DishNetwork satellite service. On the show, he interviewed Nobel laureates such as 2004 Nobel Peace prize winner, Professor Wangari Maathai, the first woman from Africa to win the peace prize and heads of states such as the president of  The Gambia, Yahya Jammeh at State House, Banjul. Tom has previously served in the board of directors of Global Minnesota, the sixth largest World Affairs Council in the United States. He has also previously served as President of the Board of Directors of Books for Africa, the largest shipper of donated books to Africa and. He sits on the board of the United Nations Association.

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